You Can’t Advertise Like That Here: Vauxhall Ampera Ad Banned For Being Misleading (Video)

5 years ago by Jay Cole 6

Not Good Enough Unless You Explain How According to the ASA

Advertising in Europe and the UK is nothing like advertising in the US.   They have standards, just ask the cosmetic’s industry.

The ASA, or Advertising Standards Agency, who is the UK’s independent regulator of advertising across all media, said that General Motors breached BCAP Code rules 3.1, 3.2 and 9.8 (Misleading Ads/Environmental claims) in advertising its Ampera extended range car (sister to the Chevrolet Volt), and told Vauxhall to discontinue its broadcast.

So what did Vauxhall do that was so grievous?

As the ad shows the car zipping around the UK electrically, a smooth talking Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart), says “Only true pioneers go further than others. Vauxhall Ampera, driving electricity further,” as the screen states “Ampera, up to 360 Miles of Range.” The ads does not give any further explanation from the actor or the text media on how specifically the Ampera achieves this 360 miles.

2013 Vauxhall Ampera, Big With the Badging

In discussing the matter, the ASA agreed with Vauxhall’s position that the wheels are driven by electricity at all times, and that it also had a 360 mile range, but they felt the commercial did not explain enough to the “average viewer” that this is a type of gas-electric hybrid vehicle.

Besides the two lines of stated text by the Captain, the ad did feature a disclaimer of sorts, running in small text, which stated:

“Comparison based on electric vehicles and extended-range electric vehicles driven electrically at all times, even when an additional power source is generating electricity.”

However, in this instance as well, the ASA felt Vauxhall was being somewhat misleading, with the text being ambiguous.  The ASA said the ad needed a clearer message of how the Ampera actually worked.   In a statement, the ASA said: “An average viewer, unfamiliar with the use of petrol engines in electric vehicles would not necessarily understand what the additional power source was.”

So, fair or foul?  Watch the ad for yourself.  However, the ASA has stated that the Ampera ad, in its current form, can not be aired again in the UK.

Ads in the US for the Chevrolet Volt have also walked a fine line on truly detailing the full operation of the car, might this also change the way that car is advertised at home?

Tags:

6 responses to "You Can’t Advertise Like That Here: Vauxhall Ampera Ad Banned For Being Misleading (Video)"

  1. BMW had an ActiveE ad Banned by the ASA because it said “Zero Emissions”. I did a blog post on this last year: http://activeemobility.blogspot.com/2010/08/activee-ad-banned-in-uk.html

  2. Jason says:

    Although I am an ardent suppporter of the Volt, their commercials do make me wince sometimes, they are always trying to say something extra without really saying what that might be. Maybe this a sign to rethink the ads and how the car is promoted.

  3. vdiv says:

    This is why I hate advertisement. It is lying through the teeth, misleading the audience. Visually and audibly the ad is great. The messaging though is completely misleading.

    “when an additional power source is generating electricity.” Wonder what that could really be… Do we have a choice of what that source is by chance?

    The fact that the Volt/Ampera is an EREV allowing it to go 360 miles is a strength, not a weakness. Why would they want to tip-toe around it? If one didn’t care what the power source was, why would they even consider a Volt/Ampera? Bah!

  4. Stuart22 says:

    I agree with the government on this – saying only ‘only true pioneers go further’ followed by ‘driving electricity further’ with no mention of gasoline’s critical involvement to make it happen is clearly misleading to anyone not familiar with the Voltec concept. The fine print which briefly appears at the bottom of the screen is not an acceptable excuse at all.

    The EREV concept is too complex to be adequately explained in an artsy 40 second commercial. If Vauxhall were to simply delete the ‘driving electricity further’ comment out of the ad and leave it to the viewer’s imagination to link up the car with all the great distance feats shown in the ad, it would probably pass by the censorship commission.

    1. Jay Cole says:

      I’m with you Stuart, I never really understood why they can’t just come straight with the facts myself (must have been a focus group somewhere who told them not to try). Shooting people straight on the car’s merits should be more than enough to sell it.

      I think saying something like, “The first 40 miles are all electric. But, if you need to go futher, a 37 MPG petrol engine has you covered.” Seems pretty simple/easy to understand to me.

      I would think anyone who didn’t understand the concept from the advertisement, who then went into a dealership to see an Ampera/Volt, would be more than a little disappointed if they were thinking they were getting 360 miles of electric driving, or from some kind of magical “additional power source.”

      Can you really confuse someone in an ad, then convert that person into a buyer at the dealership later?

  5. Bill Howland says:

    Nice to see they still uses miles in Britain. Looks like America is the only country not on the metric system. Nothing against it, just as an American I’m glad we still use the old British System. Too we’re the only ones using slugs, inch, feet, mile, acre, hectare, horsepower, and foot-pound, pounds per square inch , 4 quart gallon, and of course, British Thermal Units, and Cooling Tonage to name a few.